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Olympic Figure Skater Joannie Rochette: 'My Mom Was Lifting Me Up Because I Had No Legs'

Sun, February 28, 2010 7:11pm EDT by Add first Comment
Getty Images

Getty Images

The Canadian bronze medalist opens up about her biggest inspiration, her late mother Therese.

The world has officially fallen in love with Joannie Rochette, 24. The Canadian figure skater, who lost her mother just four days before winning her bronze medal on Feb. 25, is finally ready to talk about how the tragedy impacted her — and she has a lot to say. “I didn’t have much strength,” she tells The New York Times of her difficult competition. “I didn’t sleep much. But that last triple, my mom was lifting me up because I had no more legs. I really feel that it happened.”

She says her mother’s voice is always with her now, cheering her on, and sometimes even being critical. “Tonight she was telling me: ‘What went wrong with that triple flip? It looked so good in practice,'” Rochette says. “And: ‘Why did you take out that second double axel? You can do that in your sleep.’ She was that way just so I could be strong. It would bring the best out of me.”

And Joannie’s incredible courage has, in turn, inspired those around her. Her coach of 12 years, Manon Perron, says Joannie’s strength amazes her, and that skating was really the only thing Joannie could do to keep herself together.

“I said you have to retake control over your life by skating,” Manon says. “To be honest, I really don’t know how we got through this. [Joannie] needed me to be strong and she believed in me. That gave me the strength to help her.”

Joannie, you’ve become even more of an inspiration to people around the world! Congratulations on all your success.